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Changes to integrate the forums into the AOOo project

1. Community

The forum community divides in:

  • Site Admins
  • Forum Admins
  • Moderators
  • Volunteers

Volunteers are registered users of the forum(s) with a post count of over 200 (or another lower limit), who visit and post regularly to answer questions, report spam and in general show commitment to the forum(s), as opposed to regular registered users who may never post at all or post infrequently, or mostly post to ask questions.
Volunteers can vote within the forum on administrative and policy decisions just like moderators and administrators (who really are volunteers with some extra powers). Examples of such decisions are how to handle a particular case of user misbehavior or how to apply the spam policy to hyperlinks in signatures. Volunteers (and other forum members) can only vote in/on the PMC if they sign the iCLA and are accepted as committers.
More information about the Volunteer role can be found in the Volunteer Code of Conduct

Note: Moderators and administrators of nl forums also get the volunteer rank for the English forum, regardless of how often they post there.
A volunteer may lose his/her rank after long inactivity (but will be restored on his/her return).

Moderators are maintainers of the board, they have access to the moderator panel, removing spam, marking topics as Solved or Issue, editing topic titles to make them more meaningful or removing all caps, warning people who seriously misbehave, but not applying censorship except in case of very explicit or bad language.
More information about the Moderator role can be found in the Moderator Code of Conduct

Admins have access to the underlying forum code and the phpBB admin control panel.

The forum Survival Guide includes a description of the different user ranks and other information about the culture and standards of the forum.

The following proposal was compiled from a lengthy discussion on the EN and ES forums by FJCC It contains the contributions of several forum members, including Apache Observers.


A. Forum governance will be discussed in a publicly readable forum. Write access will be limited to those with at least 10 posts. The previous governance forum will become read only with access limited to Volunteers, Moderators and Admins. This is to protect the personal information that was posted on that forum.

B. The Forum Issues section will remain private with access limited to Volunteers, Moderators and Admins and will be used only to discuss user behavior or similarly sensitive topics

C. Forum admins must become committers. They will interact with the Apache Infra group and should be official project members. At least one Moderator, who will become a committer, or Admin on every NL forum will commit to reporting forum status to the Project as determined by the Apache OpenOffice PPMC

D. Moderators and Volunteers will keep their current functions and will be created through the traditional process of nomination and lazy consensus on the forum.

E. Any Apache Member or Apache OpenOffice PPMC member can request Apache Observer status and thereby gain read and write access to all forums, including Forum Issues, and have read access to the logs. Apache Observers will not have the capability to edit, delete or move posts or perform administrative functions unless otherwise elected to those positions by normal forum rules.

F. Any decisions made by the Apache OpenOffice PPMC with respect to the forums or the forum members will be posted on the Site Governance forum or, in the case of a sensitive topic, on the Forum Issues forum.

G. The new Terms of Use will be similar to the current ToU, particularly the clause that
"You hereby grant to the Host and all Users a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive and fully sub-licensable right and license under Your intellectual property rights to reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display and use Your Submissions (in whole or part) and to incorporate them in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the obligation to retain any copyright notices included in Your Submissions. All Users, the Host, and their sublicensees are responsible for any modifications they make to the Submissions of others." Note that Apache Legal will review and approve the final ToUs, which will also ensure that sufficient rights are granted to consider contributions under the Apache License.
The current Terms of Use are here:

H. Should the Apache project decide to terminate its support of the forums, it will grant a period of at least 90 days for the transfer of the contents and structure of the forums to another host as decided by the Administrators, Moderators and Volunteers.

I. While the forums operate within the Apache podling/project they will have the same domain/URL as before the transfer.

Initial Committers / PMC

Zoltan Reizinger - r4zoli, Hungarian Forum admin, already PPMC member

Please add here the names of the current admins/moderators/volunteers who want to join the PMC
Rory O'Farrell - RoryOF - ofarrwrk at
Ricardo Gabriel Berlasso - RGB-es on the Spanish forums (Admin) - rgb dot mldc at gmail dot com

Technical changes

The forum is maintained via private subboards currently.

Proposal #1:
The private boards are put to read only.
A new public board "site governance" is established to discuss forum related tasks. The messages are sent automatically to a readonly mailinglist name "forum-sitegovernance@".
A new private board "private xxx" is established to discuss sensitive tasks, like for example user behavior. The messages are sent automatically to a privately archived mailing list (allowing Apache Members and Apache OpenOffice PPMC members to view) with a specific tag [OOODEV:forum].

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  1. "Volunteers can be compared with Apache contributors."

    They can't. A person who contributes only one pack of code, no matter how large, is probably still considered as a contributor, but somebody who posts only once in the forums will never get the status of volunteer.
    A volunteer is a user of the forum who manages to get noticed for the quality and frequency of his/her posts, which are answers to questions. Volunteers have a voice in decisions concerning the forum, because they are committed.
    The only people who can really be compared to Apache contributors are the people who submit macro and/or program code in the Customizing and extending forums (mainly Code snippets). And anyone can do that, not just volunteers or higher. Maybe you should do something with those sub forums.

    "Proposal #3:
    Forum staff who are elected as PMC must subscribe to the private@ mailinglist. They need to sign a ICLA (with real name)."

    Why sign a ICLA if what they do is rarely, if at all, copyright related, which is what the ICLA is all about?

    floris v from, volunteer at the English forums, admin at the Dutch.

    1. Peter, I added your suggestion on contributers vs committers.

      On ICLA:

      I would like to quote:
      "The ASF desires that all contributors of ideas, code, or documentation to the Apache projects complete, sign, and submit ... an Individual Contributor License Agreement ... The purpose of this agreement is to clearly define the terms under which intellectual property has been contributed to the ASF and thereby allow us to defend the project should there be a legal dispute regarding the software at some future time. A signed CLA is required to be on file before an individual is given commit rights to an ASF project."

      I think it is necessary that people allow the ASF to work with their property. There is no way round on this, and this is how all organisations (for example Dojo Foundation) are working.

      1. I understand all of that, but you seem to forget that all other people who post in the forums are committers just as well (in a way asking questions is just as important as answering them). They would have to sign a ICLA too. And you have to collect a post count of 100 or 200 before you can become a volunteer in the English forum (or be a moderator or admin in an nl forum), and all of those posts will be of some quality so that they would have to be covered by the ICLA as well. It's better to handle the protection part in the sign up procedure when a person registers. Only then will all contributions be covered.
        Have to run now.

        1. Good point.

          But at least mailinglist users who are not committers (and who respond to questions too) are not required to sign ICLA. I would say this is true for "standard" message board posters.

          Only if you want to give them more rights, you would require an ICLA. In mailinglist example, only committers can become mailinglist moderators. I think we should make this similar.

          In any case, after we have found an agreement we should ask somebody who really knows about this ICLA stuff - legal-discuss. But lets agree on "committers need to sign ICLA at least" first. Then lets ask legal on the contributors of the forum. Just to be safe

          OK for you?

          1. I'm not clear that moderators of @a.o and @i.a.o mailing lists are required to have iCLAs or be moderators. I know that ooo-users@ a.i.o has one non-PPMC moderator.

          2. Maybe think of it this way.  If someone had posted 100-200 posts on the ooo-users.i.a.o list, all to answer questions from users and help them use the product better, i.e., for support, then that person would be an obvious candidate for being voted in as a committer.  We might have differing opinions on what the threshold number is, but I think we'd agree that someone who is highly committed to supporting the project by supporting the users on our list, is eligible to be a committer.

            However, if that person declined to sign the iCLA, for personal reasons, we would not boot them off the ooo-users mailing list.  We'd still welcome them as a valued members of the community, etc.

            I think the same thing applies to forum volunteers.  As a PMC we should be looking out for merit and proposing them for committers.  But they are not required to accept this role, if they do not want to sign the iCLA.

            With moderators and admins the situation is a little different, because they have the direct ability to enforce policy on the usage of the forum.  We need to make sure that the PMC is the root authority for forum policy, obviously with due deference to the recommendation of the project members who work with the forum on a daily basis.  This requires some form of PMC oversight.  But that can take many forms.

            1. Mr. Weir, I fail to see where signing the iCLA is relevant for the role of the moderator and admin. It's only about copyright and patenting. I have written that already, but you seem to be politely ignoring that.

              1. Here is an interesting comment from Shane to this topic:

                Here is another helpful comment:

                I think we need to differ between now. Committers/PMC must have signed ICLAs - of course. But is every Moderator/Admin a committer/PMC by definition? If no, then we need to define what an Admin/Moderator in the forum can do, when he signs/he does not sign an CLA.

                For example, Admins/Moderators without CLA should not have access to the technical aspects of the forum. They should not be able to update phpBB3, get access to the raw database etc pp
                In addition, Admins/Mods wihtout CLA have no binding vote. Of course, Admins/Mods with CLA can decide to respect the votes of non-CLAers.

                1. Binding votes for what, exactly?

                  1. For votes which may decide on the future of the board. For example, moving the board to another URL. This has been discussed already on volunteer side. If the board is running at asf side, and the pmc decides that it is a good idea to move the board to another url, it might do it. If there are people from the board on the pmc, they can oppose.

                    Same to software changes etc.

                    I would highly recommend and appreciate to have at least some forums people on the PMC to let them decide on their own fate.

                    If the board joins the ASF, they are joining this project. The separation between "coders" and "supporters" is only theoretical, after all there is one project management. And I think that some people from the forum should participate there.

                    Actually I cannot understand why you are so opposed to CLAs. If you cannot understand english thats another story. But if you can, i cannot understand. Its common usus for nearly all foundations (like dojo foundation) to sign a cla if you enter a foundation.

                    1. Well, the Dutch language forum was started specifically because lots of Dutch people have a very poor understanding of English, and one of the moderators there can't make sense of the iCLA. I doubt that signing a contract that you don't understand is legally binding, so maybe you should provide translations in the relevant nl's.
                      I don't object to signing a CLA, provided that it covers my activities, and I have tried to show here that the CLA doesn't do that at all. When I want to rent a house, I am not going to sign the contract if the contract stipulates that I'm buying the house. Surely that makes sense?

                      edited typo

                      1. Of course it makes sense what you say.

                        But you forget, that you get access to svn, ssh and varios other places at the ASF when are committer. You have the chance to change code (even when it is unlikely you do that) and services and this is what the CLA covers.

                        At the moment - and it is unlikely that this rule will change in future - you can only become access to these systems and finally a binding vote, if you sign it.

                        Of course you can choose not to sign it and not become a committer. But then you have to trust the PMCs that they act to your liking.

                        On the dutch example, we have already agreed that it is not necessary for everybody to step up the PMC/Committership, even when being moderators/admins.

                        And as a sidenote, you don't buy or rent anything with signing the cla. You protect the ASF by saying: whatever code I create, I has not been stolen. I think this is pretty acceptable.

              2. Peter, we're not talking about the "role of the moderator and admin" in the legacy forums, nor in the abstract.  We're talking specifically about the role of moderators and admins in an Apache project.  This is critical distinction that you must appreciate for any of this to make sense.

                Joining an Apache project is entirely voluntary.  No one can force you to join. But if you join then you need to work within the overall decision making process of how Apache projects work.  In that process, the final authority for decision making is the Project Management Committee (PMC).  All members of the PMC must sign and submit the iCLA.  I understand that you disagree with that rule.  You have my sympathies.  There are rules I don't like as well.  But that is the rule.  And this rule is Apache-wide.  No one involved in this discussion has the authority to waive that rule.  So, I'd recommend not dwelling on that point since it is extremely unlikely to change. 

                In any case, several forum admins and volunteers have already signed the iCLA and joined the PPMC.  As far as I can tell their skin has not melted away.

  2. No, I don't agree at all. The ICLA is a statement in which you non-exclusively license Apache to use your work. But the rights that volunteers have beyond registered users have nothing to do with that work. Volunteers can read the management forums and they can post and vote in them. But as you will have seen, the number of posts in the management forums is insignificant in comparison to the total number of posts in the forums.
    The management forums were hidden, not because the staff felt that they had something shameful to hide, but because they felt that nothing of what's discussed there is interesting for people who visit the forum to ask a question. Seriously, most people would have better things to do than read those forums.
    I feel that before we decide to spend much time to come to an agreement we should ask somebody who is good at legal stuff if all of this discussion is even necessary. I don't object to signing a kind of contract with Apache that relates to what I'm doing as admin and moderator at the Dutch forum, but I feel that the ICLA is not about those activities at all. As a moderator and admin I have the power to delete and edit posts by other people at will, and nobody but the original poster may notice it, and there's nothing in the ICLA about that kind of thing. That's a serious shortcoming.

    1. Peter,

      ICLA: if you are a committer, you need a signed cla. There is no other way. You can't get an account without it. The only way we can probably avoid it is if volunteers are not committers. They have no binding vote on pmc nominations because they cannot become a PMC without being committer. But of course there is nothing wrong when the committers/pmc from the forum respect the voices of the volunteers. I have seen many "votes" in which users expressed their opinions and the pmc accepted it as they would have binding votes. But they cannot have access to the private-ooo list and of course have no binding vote.

      If that is OK for you, I can change back the proposal to: volunteers are contributors with extended rights whos votes might be respected by the active forum committers/pmcs.

      Hidden forums: we have already discussed this somewhere on the en forum; we have agreed to make the old ones read only and open new ones which is public. I agree there are only a few people who might be interested in this, but with exception of the private lists, which are used for sensitive discussion only, everything is open.
      I think link i mentioned is:

      1. I understand all that.
        My comment about the hidden forums was somewhat off-topic, and it clearly misled you. Sorry about that.
        The forums are "run" by a group of people who don't think in hierarchical terms. There are a few moderators because the forums need some housekeeping, not because the moderators were power hungry, and most of the moderating is about moving topics to the proper sub forum, tagging thread titles as solved when appropriate or changing a title to make it match the subject (Don't you hate "I need help!!!"?), and they are very reluctant to change actual content, even if the post contains rather bad language. They don't feel that they're a class apart. So they want to take decisions together with other people who are committed to the forum, but who don't need or don't want a moderator's power. You should really read most of the discussions from the last few years that aren't about phpbb updates. Then you will find out how the forums really work.
        I'd like it if others would join the discussion here before "we" come to any agreements - I don't represent the other volunteers and mods/admins, I'm just presenting my point of view. But I don't have a problem with "volunteers are contributors with extended rights whos votes might be respected by the active forum committers/pmcs." And I want to repeat that I feel that the ICLA doesn't cover the activities of admins and moderators.
        My objections to the ICLA for the forum staff, including the volunteers are:
        1. The ICLA doesn't cover all of their activities, especially the power of mods and admins to edit/delete posts and entire topics.
        2. Their other activities, except posting in the management forums, don't differ from the activities of other people who answer questions but don't post so often.
        Take 1 and 2 together and you get a nice picture: the moderators and admins sign an agreement that doesn't cover all of their activities those activities that set them apart from the rest, and they share the activities that it does cover with many people who don't have to sign it. I don't want to continue this discussion without my lawyer. (wink)

      2. I think the iCLA has become a red herring.

        I have observed the administrator sections and the other sections of the OOo English forums and I see no reason whatsoever to not allow the current Forum adminstrators, moderators, volunteers and other participants to do exactly what they have been doing.

        The kind of "committing" that happens on the forums has nothing to do with committing to Apache releases and if someone contributed something like that an Apache OOo committer could apply it or the contributor could be requested to use bugzilla or ooo-dev.

        Even when someone posts a macro or tip involving use of features, it is not a contribution to the code base or documentation. It is a tip from one user to other users at the end-user operational level. And in any case, a standard terms of use compatible with that which is already in effect should cover those cases.

        As far as I can tell, the requirement for an iCLA is related to governance and the requirement for PPMC oversight. PPMC oversight is easy in the case where PPMC members have visibility of the administrative sections for a given NL forum. There is work to do where the language is not understood by anyone on the PPMC.

        I suggest all of that can be worked out just fine with the Forums joining the incubator and going through incubator alongside the development project.

        1. Thank you. That's a really big help.

  3. More comments on the present proposal

    Quote: "The forum community divides in:

    Site Admins
    Forum Admins

    That's not counting the registered users of course, but maybe you mean something different with "community".

    Quote: "Volunteers can be compared with Apache committers."

    On rereading this it strikes me that many volunteers may not have a clear idea of what committers are. So maybe we should describe what volunteers are by their actions, and add as a comment that that description matches committers.

    Proposal: "Volunteers are registered users of the forum(s) with a post count of over 200 (or another lower limit), who visit and post regularly, mostly help solve problems and rarely ask for help (except for instance when they ask a question in the English forum for somebody in an nl forum), report spam and in general show commitment to the forum(s), as opposed to regular registered users who may never post at all or post infrequently, or mostly post to ask questions. Volunteers have read/write access to the administration forums and can vote on policy decisions just like moderators and administrators. Moderators and administrators of nl forums also get the volunteer rank for the English forum, regardless of how often they post there."

    How to become a volunteer.
    I'm reminded of a FAQ for the forums of a gaming website that had as one of the questions: "How can I apply for moderatorship?" And the answer: "You can't. One sure way not to become a moderator is to apply for the situation."
    Here it's not quite so bad, but applications for volunteership are largely ignored if the applicant doesn't meet the requirements. A moderator or volunteer will notice that a user makes significant contributions and posts regularly, and then suggests to give the volunteer rank to that user. Mostly everybody agrees. I feel that it's nicer to keep those discussions hidden from the public: it adds to the pleasant surprise of being invited to join the volunteers when you don't expect it.

    Historically there has been very little disagreement on policy; I remember a discussion about keeping out spammers by a captcha or a mandatory signature with version information, some debates about how tolerant we are towards people who don't behave nicely, one much valued moderator left because he felt we were too accommodating.

    many edits, some historical information added

  4. We seem to be in an impasse.
    Maybe we should rephrase the problem of the forums joining Apache: if the volunteers (and that includes the moderators and admins, who are AFAIK all unpaid) feel in general that their role is as I described it, can that role fit in the structure of Apache and can Apache find a way to sort that out in legal terms so that they (and the volunteers) can be fine with it, or is it so alien to them that we won't be able to reach an agreement? If changes are needed, can people from Apache explain what those changes involve, in terms that non-legally trained people like me can understand?